Monday, 31 August 2015
Back in 2013 I put on a Sonic Masala show that included Sydney scrubber Charles Buddy Daaboul (the other acts - Silver Screens, Multiple Man and Kigo). Formerly of the great No Art, Daaboul's brand of lackadaisical groove was disarming and I have always been interested in what comes next. What came next was Big Dingo, and as the name suggests it's a band steeped in the minutiae of being an Australian, loving the outdoors and the smell of the air, the grass, the sport, the beer, sitting back and realising "you know what? Life ain't half bad ey." Case in point: 'Outback Golf', the first taste off their debut album and a slow-paced cruiser that plays almost like ocker calypso. What's it about? Playing golf in the outback. Not stepping in wombat poo. Eating meat pies in the sun. It's funny, dorky, ridiculous, and a hell of a lot of fun. I cannot stop calling out oooooooooutback, goooooooooolf... I'm sure the neighbours are loving me.
Sunday, 30 August 2015
The Fall, the new album from Israeli band Tiny Fingers (it's their fourth), has totally blindsided me. The swirling, atmospheric intensity that comes with these coalescing psych squalls, complete with organ, took my breath away. 'Traveller Sound' emulates the dizzying acrobatics that Battles do so well; the proggy flourishes and indulgences on tracks like 'Dispatcher' fly the freakout flag as diligently and mind-meltingly as The Mars Volta (whom thee band has supported in the past). But it is how good these intricate instrumentals build and breathe that is stunning - from the frenetic, kinetic title track to the contemplative yet bombastic 'Music For The Sun' (which seems to tip the hat to Yes, Pink Floyd, Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky, all through a very idiosyncratic filter). The Fall is breathtaking and transcendental - I haven't said enough about it. Let's hope this record explodes, because Tiny Fingers are that good.
I head back to work tomorrow. Grim. Sonic Masala's show last night was good though. Plus it's Frightfest here in London, a showcase of a shedload of horror. Gleefully grim. I saw We Still Live Here on Friday. Plus seeing Nina Forever tomorrow. And in the meantime I'm listening to these bad guys. Sometime horror is the only way to get through the horror.
Getting the gutter grunt rock on with Leeds' unlikely lads Pink Rick. A Different Species? You better believe it. Two tracks of vitriol, venom and vinegar. It's like they wrote these songs just for me. The B-side 'MF Giger' doesn't have the gnarled snarl of the title track, preferring to get their drone dirge on, which is just as great. Come to London, now.
Long Beach weirdo Shivering Window gets his lo-fi echo-laden creep on with 'Dreaming of Su Tissue'. An indie rock gem that has been cast into a corrosive pit and crawled back bitter and strange, the soul just visible through the hiss and sputter. This really gets here for the muted music that underpins 'Let's Make The Old School Into Our Castle' - its a disturbing beat that still has plaintive vocals wrestling it into something more aesthetically pleasant.
Boston punks Aneurysm blow out the speakers on their new Stop This Ride EP. I haven't heard any searing protopunk much at all this year, so this has been a detonation of fresh blood and viscera. You need something to soundtrack cathartic displays of violence on stationary objects and your friends? This fits the bill, and then some. Full throttle Bronx brutality.
Beijing bastards Cat Aids have tacked seven thrashy punk bilge pump tracks to a twenty minute demented cut from equally well-monikered DJ Urine. With these names you are never going to take them seriously - with cover art of a shark fucking a vomiting pink unicorn (who loves it) you know these boys are deranged. 'Zen & the Art of Bad Manners' is simple but all the more balltearing when it explodes; while 'Miao Tian' shows some dark noise tendencies that go beyond the blasted hardcore undertones here (they still pop a few veins though). 'Selfish Nation' is almost their pop song - Blur x The Fall by the way of Ian Dury and Comets On Fire. Jesus
Canadians Tough Age start out as fluffy, fuzzy punk pop (in the great, Superchunk way) on new record I Get The Feeling Central, but there are tracks here that show a more Hives-breaking alter ego, like on the brawling 'The Gutter Lemon', the bruised surf instrumental 'Landau, Luckman & Lake' and the hammered hip-shaker 'New Orleans Square'. The album licks the heels and kicks the sand into most variants of rock history with total disregard of the consequence. Great stuff.
The cover art alone for this last entry is enough to garner a horror tip of the hat, evoking as it does the cream of the pagan horror crop (I'm thinking The Wicker Man and to a lesser extent Kill List - not a lesser film, mind, just not exactly a pagan horror film, but then it is...just see it, it's brilliant). Evil Blizzard (see? They even have evil in their name!) have an eight-minute prog psych blast with 'Sacrifice'. The metallic production and theatricality of the song usually would ward off any interest, but there is something about the plodding repetition and vocals here that hypnotize me.
Happy Sunday, everyone!
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Sydney shoegaze psychos The Laurels are back with a new lineup and a new song. Jasper from Decoder Ring has stepped in for Kate Wilson; and 'Zodiac K' is the first taste of the new Laurels (or any Laurels for a number of years). It's a bit of a weird, sinuous number, focusing heavily on samples, effects-shrouded vocals and a lazy, hazed groove throughout. It's a complicated hit, shirking the more shoegazey aesthetics from their hit album Plains for something more freeforming and experimental, floating in the freak paisley psych realm (which you could say Perth band Pond resides in; it isn't a surprise to see ex-Tame Impala/current-Pond Nicholas Allbrook co-touring with the band this month). It will be interesting to see where the guys head next, that's for sure.
The cover art and title for Sydney post-punks Ghastly Spats LP Spinozism Exorcism is a little misleading. Death/thrash metal from the bowels of Hell. Ghastly Spats ain't that. That said, 'Obsessed' is still a diseased gutter rock number, the drum smashing like shattering plates onto aluminium, the guitars feed back, swirl in their own desiccated Cramped cesspit, bass lurching along, part jaunty, party stalker, vocals barked, ripped out of the lungs. It's almost industrial in its white-noise disregard and fatalism. Brutal yet gurning scuzz fun for all (read: none) of the family. Grab the LP here.
Friday, 28 August 2015
The Underground Youth's penchant for dark, brooding, cavernous rock is fully displayed on new album Haunted (out through Fuzz Club Records next week). There is a Gothic post-punk swoon to 'Collapsing Into Night', feeling pitched headlong into the shadows of 80s monochrome despair. This bleeds into a more plaintive title track, a faster disco beat augmenting the shift in tone (or variant thereof), before the wall of fuzz cascades on 'Dreaming Of Maya Deren'. The album continues to lurk in these black-and-white realms, but it's the spaces in between that holds the hypnotism - the quiet hiss and throb that opens 'Drown In Me' or 'Slave''s fizzing electric surges, the operatic fade in on tracks like 'The Girl Behind'. It is a melodramatic mantra, melodies that mesmerise. Haunted indeed.
It's Friday, so let's kick out the funk, King Khan style! The hard-working garage titan is bringing out a soundtrack score to a film called The Invaders through his brand spankin' new label, Khannibalism (which looks to be focusing on unearthing unique albums such as a William S Burroughs spoken word album), and here is a great taster in 'Hurtin' Class'. The song features the mighty Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Chain & the Gang). And if you don't start start singing along to "you belong to the hurtin' claaaaaaaas..." (even just in your head) and sliding around on the floor - then you might need your pulse checked. Grab the 7" here.
Bedroom Suck Records has had a brace of strong releases the past few months (with Blank Realm almost upon us too), one of which is Sorry! from Melbourne duo Circular Keys. It's a nebulous lo-fi electronic fare, Phillipa O'Shea's ethereal yet powerful vocals poured over Dennis Santiago's percolating, rippling guitar, reverb and lysergic beats keeping everything moving at a psychotropic saunter (especially on 'Child (Eurogrand)'). The title track is cut up in lurching syncopation, a dub-centric loop, with O'Shea soaring above it all across the room, booming forth like Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus, a lusty belting vocal that echoes across genres and eras. There is a shimmering mystery to Sorry!, making the tracks both entrancing and held back behind a synthetic regalia - a track like 'Eyes' becoming a dream flickering out of a 1960s wood panel television into a darkened room, velvet curtains muting the walls... Drugged dreampop from another world, another future. It is all so strange, and oh so beautiful. Grab Sorry! here.
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Liam Kenny is prepping another attack on the senses. Having explored the musical cover artform on his A Kenny For Your Thoughts project last year, the Bitch Prefect/Peak Twins/et al musician is punching out his first solo record under his own name. Called The White Man Is Oppressor, it promises to be pretty gnarled and visceral, if first taste 'Border Fetish' is anything to go by (which, due to his chameleonic back catalogue, isn't much - this album could be anything). A chugging, snarling punk sprawl, Kenny sneering as he garishly cuts into the psyche of the white Australian male. As hard and harsh as Cobwebbs at their most insane, 'Border Fetish' circles around the blood in the water, scraping metal distortion back and forth, a chaotic oscillation, with Kenny coughing, grunting, spitting and snarling. An attack on the privileged platform that he himself is inherently a part of, The White Man Is Oppressor is going to be an acerbic, bitter punk pill to gnash on - and one that was desperately in need of being made. You will be able to get the album through Eternal Soundcheck, but until then, hit Play and self-flagellate.
THEY ARE BACK...
One of my all time favourite bands, My Disco, are preparing to release Severe, their 4th LP and first record since Little Joy back in 2011. And first cut 'King Sound' sounds so much darker than I was anticipating! They have never been a joy and light band by any stretch of the imagination, but the almost industrial edge this minimalist marching dirge holds is a colder shade of black. I guess the album is called Severe for a reason, right? Their tightly-coiled precision and roiling mantras are blasted out into a darker space here - rather than controlled aggression, we have something more abject, more uncomfortable, more disturbing. I'm reminded of the creeping unease that I felt when watching the victims' demise in the great film Under The Skin last year - but something baser, more nihilistic is at play here. In short - I'm fucking excited for this record.
Pre-order Severe from Temporary Residence here - first 200 copies are clear with black smoke swirl - NICE.
Since 'Resident Dregs' hit the air with brute force earlier this year, I have been waiting eagerly for the release of Kitchen's Floor's new record, brilliantly titled Battle Of Brisbane. And now we have a track off it, 'Sundowner', and it is immediately my favourite Kitchen's Floor cut I have ever heard (although other recent track 'Resident Dregs' is bloody good too). A take on the death-march dirge, the song shows the adherence to a fuller, harsher sound, eschewing the scrappy aesthetics of previous recordings for something much more full-blooded and aggressive. It is no less raw though; the track bristles with spittle-flecked venom, an acknowledgement of how bad things have gotten, howling like a wounded beast. But there is an unabashed roar of despair and disgust to Kennedy's vocals that feels like all of the desperation of the last few years is hurling forth in a molten morass of internal and external frustrations, a mottled war cry against the pricks, real and implicit. If this is the kind of impassioned fury we can come to expect from the album, the Battle of Brisbane promises to be bloody.
Pre-order Battle of Brisbane through Bruit Direct Disques here. Kennedy is doing the solo run through Europe in September - catch him at London's Shacklewell Arms Wednesday September 16.
Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Continuing on from Andrew Tuttle, one of his many jobs is working for Lawrence English's imprint Room40, which is still celebrating its fifteenth year in existence with some great releases of its own. First of all we have the inimitable Tim Hecker, who will be released this limited edition 7" of the singular track Apondalifa as part of the reissue of the two releases he has done on the label (the other being 2007's Norberg EP). 'Apondalifa' has only been available as a download too, so it will be its first airing as a physical entity. Which is pretty exciting, as the circular undulating guitarwork, the scratching on the metal strings, should resonate in vinyl form I feel. Pre-order Norberg/Apondalifa here.
The other exciting release is Pain Avoidance Machine, the new piece by American-Australian outre composer Erik Griswold. It's an intriguing yet invigorating listen - Griswold's unique take on utilising the piano means that the plinking, hammering and caressing all seem disparate yet warmly familiar at the same time. His compositions (listen to 'Pale Yellow Frontier' below) sound electronic, constructed by synthetic means - rather, it is taking the piano at all angles, making it a polyrhythmic world of its own. You can buy this on CD here.
Brisbane's own electroacoustic dapper gent Andrew Tuttle is the latest artist to provide a track to the Heligator cause, which has included the likes of Braeyden Jae, Landing, Stag Hare and Clipd Beaks amongst many others (and if you haven't heard one of the first tracks, by Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler, do yourself a favour and get it now). Heligator Records puts the funds made on all digital sales towards the continuous funding of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Swaziland, an incredibly worthwhile cause. Tuttle's effort is '177', his first track that focuses primarily on guitar work for some time. It still includes his preoccupations with echoing meditation, creating a chrysalis of rustic chiming chords and effects that cascade around and through you - which means it is beautiful. Definitely head over and support this worthwhile cause, and get you some rare and exciting experimental music while you're at it.
Melbourne's The Sunset Club are prepping for their first physical release real soon, and here is a taste from it. Frontman Dougie Arnott was a great help for this year's Sonic Masala Fest, helping us out over the weekend with gruntwork and positive vibes, and the band opened the Pre-Sonic Masala show at The Bearded Lady alongside Tape/Off, Turnpike and Dead Farmers. The two tracks here are punchy, both evoking the 90s guitar rock that proliferated the land and more brooding, propulsive fare as seen on B-Side 'Over & Over', with Arnott's howl taking you by the throat. Solid stuff.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
I realised this week that Sonic Masala relies so much on my iPhone. I realised this because my iPhone hit the bathroom tiles a little too hard and is now out of action. On the bus, at work, over a pint in the pub, I do a lot of groundwork/correspondence/idea-crunching for all facets of SM. Bizarre to think I resisted upgrading from my trusty Nokia brick right up until 2011. First world problems I guess... Anyway here are six bands that have been fuelling the fires...
BLiNDNESS is a loud shoegaze-centric trio out of London who released debut album Wrapped In Plastic through Saint Marie Records. It's a sonic blast that comes from Debbie Smith of Curve and Echobelly, a dark shivering slithering beast of a record.
Chile is a band that has become synonymous with some solid psych rock over the past few years, what with The Holydrug Couple and Follakzoid in their midst. Maff bring the intoxication and squall on their self-titled album. Mirroring the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain ('Walking On Fire') and injecting it with infectious indie rock ('Million Year Picnic'), Maff is a continuous gift of sonorous highs.
Here is a great little oddity out of my hometown of Brisbane. Lucid Dreamtime is a apocryphal minor masterwork from Howling Cloud, a one-man sonic explorer who marries field recordings, world music mantras and Eastern desert drawl to create a sonic afterlife, scoring a mystic journey through the looking glass. Twelve minute Opening cut 'Enter The Everywhen' is particularly stunning, but the spacious dreaming of 'Acid Rain' and the swirling drone of 'Deadman Dreaming' are great also.
A totally different pace now with San Francisco rockers Void Boys, whose Glamorpus release blasts forth with barbed hooks and growling pop heft. The four-piece supported Screaming Females recently and this says a lot about what they are about. The bass is heavy and driving, the guitars propulsive, yet there is a vivacious positivity that shines throughout, in no small part to Shannon Bodrogi's vocals. They have quieter moments, such as the building 'Culling Song', but Void Boys are best when they let everything go like on aggressive opener 'Bruxism' or the explosive pop underpinning 'Starfish'.
Nottingham punks Soul Structure have a desperate belter in The Body Of Man, a heady invective that wastes no time punching in all directions. It's a fairly sparse production, with some sinewy precise guitarwork and breakneck drumming, and it plays well into the sudden breaks in direction and pace. Each song is fidgety, refusing to stay in one groove, even spitting venom can suddenly halt without warning. This unpredictability lends The Body of Man its pent-up urgency.
I'm gonna pull up stumps with listening to New Zealand's Lowlands, a gauzy lo-fi drifting dream. I don't know much about the act, but Lowlands holds firm in its slowburn, a brooding echo-laden pop paralysis, a cavernous contemplation of hopes and dreams, revelling in the dronal netherspaces and found sounds of an arctic otherworld. Lilting and arresting, I want more of this bedroom emancipation as it invades my senses.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
The sketchy, hypnotic sworl of 'Crank' has held me in its thrall all day today. It is the new track from New York band Palm from their upcoming debut album Trading Basics (out through Exploding In Sound Records Inflated Records - pre-order it here). It starts off spiralling harshly out of control a la the downturned bends of Per Purpose; but once 'Crank' finds its groove it reminds me more of a energetic Tortoise, jettisoning the jazz overtones for a Sargent House-brand metallic deconstruction, but softened by the lilting vocals of Eve Alpert. It's a intriguing and intoxicating mix, and come November Trading Basics will be anything but.
Detonic Recordings is lumbering out of slumber with their sixth release. The catch? You can only get it at The Bearded Lady in Brisbane on Friday August 28! What is it? Just a mixtape of some of the best wild electronic sounds to come out of the synthetic corners of the world for the last little while. Detonic is putting on the show that features mnttab, Yaws, Spirit Bunny, Wolf Shield and Corporate Vibes. It's wild. Favourites? Obviously love Yaws' contribution 'Regression', and have always loved me some mnttab and Spirit Bunny - but I also loved the garish nature of Corporate Vibes' 'Bass Strait', the sexy grind of Italian duo Schonwald's 'Slow Milk' and the post-everything romanticism of Happy Plastic Cup's closing track. It's all pretty great though (Celiac's Simple Minds cover and Prison's 'Kundle' are good too - ah, just go listen to it!)
But as you will see, the d/l is nigh on impossible to afford, so GO TO THE SHOW ON FRIDAY! Get on it! GO! GOOOO!
Monday, 24 August 2015
When I was hunting around London for a new alternative for pressing records for Sonic Masala Records earlier this year, I hung out a bit at The Carvery, a small unit out of Hackney. They are responsible for the great-quality vinyl output that has become the Faux Discx seal of approval. And while I was there, I got a chance to listen to the new Sealings record that had just come in that day. The Brighton noiseniks have crafted an abrasive pill that you will definitely want to swallow. An aural assault (with Mike Young mastering to boot), AND it's called I'm A Bastard - what more can you want? Order it here. They launch the album Friday September 18 at Shacklewell Arms alongside The Worms and The Bomber Jackets - free show too.
One of my favourite albums of last year was Louder Space, the gazillionth album from Bim Thomas, this time in his solo guise Obnox. The guy is a gargantuan maelstrom of music, so it should come as no surprise that so far in 2015 he has already followed it up with puntastic Boogalou Reed, the garrulous fun of Know America, and the forthcoming Wiglet (through Ever/Never Records).
Boogalou Reed is more flat out, scuzzed up guitar punk with 70s psych rock riff leanings - the opening two songs, instrumental 'Wonder Weed' and ballsy 'Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', sound like a smoked rock jam and an MC5 acolyte respectively. The hip-hop riffs are largely missing here, but their absence doesn't make this any less an Obnox record - its his enthusiasm, devilish combustion and confident swagger. And that explosive guitar. And his cheek - calling a blown-out 60s garage number 'Too Punk Shakur' says it all. But he spreads the net even further afield - 'Situation' sounds like Dean Blunt in a RnB/rock meltdown; the noise rock fuckstorm that is closer 'Protopipe'; and in a truly melting performance, he delivers one of the best covers I have heard in forever with his version of Neil Young's 'Ohio' - and seeing as Neil is my man, that makes Bim my man, too.
Then hot on its heels was Know America, a "concept" album about a radio station takeover. And it is electrifying. 'Grease' has an Outkast groove, if they scuffed up their beats with layers of dirt and grime and took wholeheartedly to a punk aesthetic. 'Cracked Up' is even more straight up punk, threatening to blow your speakers with white bleed and backed-up feed. It is ferocious in its sound and approach, and that is what Obnox is all about - it is all genuine, 100% honest, with nothing left on the line. 'Menocause' slows things down, Thomas' falsetto a softer timbre, wavering in and out of a sea of chiselled distortion. 'Loudpack' grinds as it grooves, following Thomas' hip-hop-via-hendrix delivery with a few choice guitar wails and a plethora of random noises. This jump back and forth in styles and production levels (although never crystalline) heightens the concept while allowing his creative whirling dervish to spin around unabated. There is one moment of defiant cultural awareness on 'Hillbilly Intervention' - although playing at a skit-level - seems to present the racist juxtaposition of white men in rock appropriating black music then monopolising it, a broad strokes caricature but also a subversive fingers-up salute to naysayers. Maybe I'm reading too much into it - and when 'Freaky' blasts forth, at any rate, everyone knows that this is Bim's house.
So with two incredible records already in 2015, what does Wiglet (which you can and should preorder here) promise? First cut 'Look To The Sun' is a blown-out dirge, a two-minute crawl through the distorted abyss, Bim's slow, drawled croon narcoticised and blasted. It sounds as furious as ever, and promises to be a third tilt in the one year to claim my favourite album. Obnox is the goddamn TRUTH.
I have to say I am a little confused by Making... I was pretty sure the Sydney trio were breaking up. But seems I was (thankfully) entirely wrong, as they release their new LP Highlife next month through Trait Records. I have been a fan of theirs since hearing their excellent self titled EP and this lives up to the long expectations. The first track that really grabs me is the fourth track on the album, 'Come To Me' - it has that My Disco brooding pendulum rhythm and clipped/barked monosyllabic vocal approach, but then it explodes into something altogether more gnarled and corrosive. 'Zs' also fits into this vein, although there is a heavier metallic expulsion here that pushes them into noisier terrain. 'Dream Job' lurches forth, a metallic monster, deliberately unsettled and unsettling, serrated and scabrous, forcing the bile into the back of the throat. Then 'Amazon' has a more sinuous groove inherent, something Battles might produce without all the theatrics; 'Pascal' has moments of reflection in the middle third that allows for the pummelling bookends to smash forth with more controlled venom; and the psychotropic freneticism of the closing title track is the weirdest yet most cathartic song on the album. It does take the foot off the neck a bit, so to speak, and it is essentially what enlivens Highlife and makes those moments of black tension and white-hot release so potent. The production is powerful and precise too, thanks to Ivan Lisyak (Narrow Lands, Tanned Christ) and Lawrence English.
Preorder Highlife here - it's a corker. Making hit the road in Australia to launch the album on these dates (which also features Sonic Masala Records band Danyl Jesu in the mix!):
5th September - Crowbar Brisbane
11th September - Black Wire Records, Sydney
12th September - The Public Bar, Melbourne